Spanish Sparkling Wine: A Short Introduction
Author: Jack Grey
My article today will focus on the Spanish Sparkling Wine: Cava. In this feature, I will give you some background information, including explaining briefly how this delicious sparkling wine is produced. I will then tell you a snippet of my own experience with this Spanish bubbly, before we look at some useful buying tips, and my recommendation for an outstanding English fizz alternative from Stanlake Park.
Cava: What's the story?
First of all, a basic background to this famous fine-bubbled Spanish offering and how it is produced. As you might already know, Cava is made in Catalonia, mainly using the grapes Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo. In addition to this, producers sometimes avail themselves of both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It is a wonderful option for a celebration as it can be bought at a lower price to some of its alternatives.
Now to get technical (not too much) and focus on production. This is done using the ‘Traditional Method’ (the same production process that is used to make Champagne and English Sparkling Wine).
Two of the most important things to note in the making of Cava are as follows. First, is that there is a second fermentation. This is done to add bubbles to the wine, and takes place within the bottle itself. Second, the wine is then aged on dead yeast cells (lees) which adds further complexity, for example, brioche notes.
My Cava Conquests
One of my favourite experiences of the Spanish Sparkling wine Cava took place when I spent a week in Catalonia. During that time of frolicking and fun, I was fortunate enough to visit one of the local wine estates. As this was a few years ago, my foggy memory cannot recall its name exactly, but I hope that with some vivid imagery, and some flowery language, I can make your tastebuds tingle and spur you on to try more Cava for yourself.
The vineyard was situated in a small, sunlit valley, right next to the ocean. The terrain was hilly and the weather hot. At the back of the vineyard was the reception area. A beautiful, clear-glass building, boasting a panoramic view of the estate leading down into the valley, and to our right, a triangle of the ocean. A friend and I were given a vineyard tour of the whole area including production and grape growing, culminating in an opportunity to taste the range of wines offered, while drinking in the splendid view.
I had a chance to taste one of their Cavas and was truly astounded by the complexity of the wine, it offered such a bready character and was beautifully refreshing in the sun. The brilliance of the wine, combined with the stunning vistas made for an unforgettable experience, and one that I hope to be able to repeat all over the world.
Spanish Sparkling Wine Buying Tips
When buying Cava it is helpful to have an understanding of the following key points: Cava can be classified according to its ageing and its levels of sweetness. With regards to the latter, it can be described as between Brut Nature (at its driest) and Dulce (at its sweetest). Age, on the other hand, is split into 3 sections, Cava at youngest, Cava Reserva, and finally Cava Gran Reserva.
A Stanlake Park Selection
To wrap up, I have made an alternative suggestion to Spanish Sparkling Wines from Stanlake Park’s very own stocks (a tongue-twister for you) . If you are searching for an alternative to an aged Cava, then a noteworthy proposal is the Stanlake Brut English Sparkling Wine. This offering has spent a long 5 years ageing on its lees, longer than lots of Cavas, and this has given it enviable yeast notes on top of the fruit. With this many choices, it’s hard to know where to start!